Wearing a Malo+ Eating Poi doth not a Hawai’ian Make (No matter what anyone wants to believe…)


Why it happens a whole lot is beyond my capacity to believe is a good enough reason as to why it seems, and sometimes actually IS, that Hawai’ian people, at least some of us, want to divide us…over things that really prove nothing other than some folks are really very ignorant

The young man with his arms embraced around the young lady in the graduation cap and gown is my son. The young lady is my only daughter. These are my two older children. Their friends and the rest of life know them as Jeremy and Gracie. Their blood relations know them as Kahaku and Maile. These are my keiki, my kids, the very example of two very good Hawai’ians.

My son is not wearing a Malo.

Neither of my kids is shown as eating poi, and you would never know it if I didn’t tell you all right now that the young lady can eat (alongside her mother and a six pack of ice cold Corona beer…it is the Primo Beer of Los Angeles….ole’!) a huge calabash of poi and lomi, and save none for anyone else.

No Malo.

No Poi.

Yet, they are some of the best Hawai’ian people I have ever known.

I know this for sure.

I am their mother.

I raised them to have Hawai’ian values.

It is unfortunate that some parents have taught their own kids most of the Hawai’ian values, but have not taught them all. The one that I made a point, the one that was the most important, and this is coming from a very non-religious, non-judgmental Kahuna Wahine – ME…I taught my children, still teach my children, even as two of them are legal adults now, the very tenets of Aloha, with the most important one coming out of the Bible.

And yes – it IS part of the tenets of Aloha (the one that sounds like “everyone has hanai ohana, and the world of Kanaka Maoli is meant as the biggest Hanai Ohana known to mankind”…think about it…)

“Judge Not Lest First Ye Shall Be Judged” (Matthew 7:1)

The reason that I would include that in this writing…well, I actually have a few reasons. Since it is that a whole lot of our ancestors converted to Christianity during the days of royalty and for as long as it took for the foreigners to come to our lands and destroy our culture (or so they thought…not, we jus’ made ‘um mo’ bettah, da land….we did…try look….see?) and up until this point in time, and perhaps this very moment in time – lots and lots of us follow the words in that damned church book as though the foreigners’ god actually reached his haole hand (Yup, I said it, so deal with it #podagheeMout‘) from the clouds and penned it in his free time (for real?…wow…wow lau lau kine wow even…yeesh!)

So, a day or so ago when I was chatting with my Auntie, Mel., what she forwarded to me in an email completely broke my heart, pissed me off and made me want to write this, not only for Auntie to know that no, no Auntie you are NOT wrong for being upset, but also because again – there are no such people as “lesser” Hawai’ians, only those kinds of Hawai’ians with lesser capacity to accept the idea that we do not all live over there in the islands, that some of us do not have the need to prove what we are by what we wear or what we tell everyone we love to eat.

We are lots more than a frikkin’ half hour luau show….that is what I thought of first when I saw what made me want to write this – it made me think immediately about the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau and Show…no lie. It made me think that who we are is meant to be on display rather than worn proudly, even if we do so quietly, knowing that our quiet resolve will be the thing that will scream ONIPA’A….apparently lots of us do not know how to be proud of who we are without feeling like we have to prove to others that somehow, we are the be all, end all of things Hawai’ian.

I have a hard time with those who wear their bullshit on their sleeves. It is bullshit that there are lot of us who feel like we have to show off, that if we are not showing off, we are also not showing up as the Hawai’ians we are supposed to be showing up as. We want to show up strong and real, and lots of us want to pretend to be “hardcore” but the truth of that is that in order to be hardcore (totally a mainland term), you have to be a good human. In order to be a good Hawai’ian, one must be a good human, and to be a good human means to accept other humans as being equal to ourselves. When we feel we have something to prove, we are showing the world that we want everyone else to tell us that we are mo’ bettah, but the truth is that when we have to show it, it means that we are not being what it is that we are telling people we are being. In the case of a whole lot of Kanaka Maoli, we are, by their bullshit, not showing up, a whole lot of us, as being good human beings. When we are not being good to one another, we are not being our Aloha selves. When we are not being our Aloha selves, we are being anything but a good Hawai’ian.

Wearing a malo and telling the world that eating poi is what proves that you are a good Hawai’ian is NOT what makes a person a good Hawai’ian, because lots of people forget that you have to be good as a human, and picking on people to make your point, specifically picking on one’s own people shows the rest of us just how much you follow your own words. Some believe it is in the showiness rather than in the beingness that matters.

THAT is what makes a human person Hawai’ian or NOT?  I think I am most offended by the very idea that people not only talk all this kind of stuff, but more, that they get on social media and tell everyone else about how ridiculous they are, even without saying a thing in relation to the thing at hand, and more, how incredibly ignorant, with the probability of being ….unintelligent…in terms of thinking with an open mind…that lots of humans can truly be. In order to love and live int he light of Aloha as we are meant to, one must be always possessed of an open-mind.

To think with an open mind about the way that we here have had to adapt our culture to our native environment, and for us over here, for like…GENERATIONS, BRAH….that, in your language and your limited capacity for a better understanding of adaptation…have somehow made you think that we are not as good at being Hawai’ian as you over there are…it might not be what you are telling us here it is, this whole …energy of hubris…that you show toward us, as though those who feel and think and believe this way somehow are the voice for the many.

Dude…you’re NOT! You can’t speak for my aunties over there who think that this is all a land grab by ignorant people who have been taught to pass down the ignorance and the hatred, who have felt so small as a human themselves that they have …YOU have…chosen to make us…you know- us guys who are just like you? – You have chosen to make US the enemy. It appears to me that you are too arrogant to believe that we could…us guys over here (I break it up like this so that some folks reading it can allow their lazy brains to rest and not have to wrap their heads around )… could actually HELP with making ourselves known collectively as being Native Hawai’ians.

Note that I did not say “Native Americans,” because even those guys, lots of them, agree that we are NOT Native Americans, and that YES, we ARE NATIVE HAWAI’IANS, because OUR ISLANDS WERE ITS OWN COUNTRY, and that does not make us native to America like it does our Native American brethren. That is beside the point – the most important thing that I am reading into all of this division-making language between us over here and you over there (not all of you) – is MOST of us want to be called and referred to as being what we are. No one blames us…but there are still a lot of us who refuse to see ALL of us as being actual “blood Hawai’ians.”

I am an actual “blood-Hawai’ian,” but more than that, I am an actual GOOD Hawai’ian who was born and raised in the mainland. There are a lot of us here. There are many, many, MANY of us who were born and raised here. All of us who are here embrace our Hawai’ian roots, and all of us want the same things that many over there also want – our cultural identity to be what it is for real, which is NOT Native American.

And really, once again I am here, writing something to a group of people who, even as I sit here writing this out, still perplex and shock me with their words, but more than that, this type of thinking – the type that makes a person continue to believe that they are better or more of something than another person, or perhaps a whole lot of people are, merely because of their actual show of those things.

By show of those things, I am speaking directly about the idea that wearing a malo everyday, and eating poi all the time, and speaking pidgin as though it were the Queen’s English – sorry guys, but this does not make you the epitome of being Hawai’ian. It is not what you can show people to prove that you are Hawai’ian, but how you behave and who you are as that Hawai’ian, regardless if you are wearing a malo or an Irish kilt – doesn’t matter – Hawai’ian is, as Hawai’ian does.

This alone makes me wonder why a lot of us do what we do, all in the name of showing the world our Hawai’ian manner of dress, versus allowing one’s own self to become one’s own epitome of being Hawai’ian.

The Epitome of being Hawai’ian

The last time that I had anything like this to say to the populace of the world, it was not that kind, and prior to that, I had to say something about us here, about how not being wrecked or damaged Hawai’ians and that the only wrecking and damage that happens is by our own people onto us – specifically us who are mainland Hawai’ians. This has got to stop. When it is that we find that there are those of us who are looking for people who do not think like they think (you know…with lots of hatred for people you do not know but have so much in common with), people who feel like they have to prove that they are better than we are over here (by showing the world their Hawai’ian-ness, versus being the best version of their human selves that they can be), or better than anyone, period, all you are truly doing is letting the rest of us know that you talk all kine stuff, but, when it comes right down to it all – you are worried that we might be right, and more than that, you are very worried that without our having to be there, in the Mother Land, we actually are pretty good Kanaka.

And what scares you who are like this the very most is that we might actually be the very epitome of being Hawai’ian, and in lots of unenlightened and unevolved heads of those with whom we all share ancestral roots with, this cannot happen. This cannot happen because there is no way that we over here could outdo those over there who want to believe that we are not the same as you over there. I have to continue to write it that way – “you over there”…”us over here”…and with very good reason – without the division, some folks cannot differentiate, which is my whole ball of wax to begin with. It is the sadness of this knowledge that makes it like this, more than it is the idea that it takes the very lot of us to explain away what are your fears (versus what you want to think is the truth – that you are somehow an authority of being Hawai’ian – you are only the authority on yourselves and it would be appreciated if you would get over yourselves because you are holding things up for us all…yeah, keep reading – you know you want to…)

But you want to point out what is different than you, and you want us to feel as lousy about our own private and personal selves as you are not hiding that you feel about yours. I said it, so deal with it, because it is the truth. What is not the truth is that somehow you are better than we are because there are plenty of us who do not speak only pidgin, but who consider ourselves to be bilingual, and here in Southern California, that would be a very big truth because we are the melting pot of the west coast (I prefer to think if it as the Casino Buffet….). Since it is that we are some of the very most accepting and tolerant people, it makes a whole lot of sense that we are able to convey a message of Aloha without getting too….stink…about it with other people.

What a whole lot of human beings don’t realize is that, the more that anyone on this planet points out what is wrong with other people, the more it become apparent that the person or people who would point the “wrongs” out in feels that they are just as, if not more than, damaged as the people who they want to make look bad, and for what?

Oh…yeah…I know.

Because it is all you have, that’s why.

You come at us with all of this bullshit about how it is that you are more real than we are, and you don’t even know who we are, and, in fact, you probably don’t even really know who you are, for real. You are not as bad ass as you want to believe you are, at least not by right of walking the crust of the planet in a frikkin malo…I promise, that is not enough to make you a good Hawai’ian.

A Good Hawai’ian

Let me tell you, from the point of view that is the educated wahine, the teacher, the doctor, the professor, and, the chick who is in college right now and who is making her way in the world toward becoming ALL of these things -and guess what? I am Hawai’ian. I have been called a whole lot of things by other Hawai’ians but the ones who are from here have been the ones who have said it a whole lot, and guess what? They are right – we are not less than you are, you guys, and it is time that you just simply got over yourselves and your fucking zip code – your zip code does not matter. You are not better than we are. You are not better than anyone else is, at least not anyone human and being at the same time.

A good Hawai’ian is a person who chooses to live by the tenets of Aloha for ALL, and all means ALL, man.

It does not mean that you get to choose, by right of your own experiences with people from this side of the ocean – I am betting that if they had an issue with you, that you had an issue with them first…being a good Hawai’ian is not just something that some of you over there seem to have a good handle on. If you did, I would not be sitting here writing this. I would not feel compelled because it would not have to happen (yes – HAVE TO). It would not have to happen because there would be no one making a big deal out of the idea that they wear a fucking malo and eat lots of poi, or perhaps that person was just making a smart ass statement about one of the world’s most beloved Hawai’ian activists – Auntie Mel.

The reason that I bring up Auntie Mel, again, is simple – the one thing that we are taught as we are growing up as Hawai’ian children is that, even if we do not like our Tutu, even if we do not speak to them, and even if we feel challenged for trying to do so, even in a silent manner, and unless that Tutu is harming another human being. Auntie does not harm, but educates, and when it is that another hanai ohana member of the global tribe chooses to step outside of this one lesson that all Kanaka children are brought up learning, we step outside of ourselves. Stepping outside of ourselves means that we challenge who we are, who we have been raised to be. I am positive that all mothers from the Hawai’ian race want our kids to grow up and not make an ass out of us. Some of us end up teaching our kids the right way.

I apparently am one of those Hawai’ian mothers, the sort who teaches and continues to teach her children the reality that is the soul of Aloha, the lessons of the Kuleana that is ours to hand down to the generations which follow our own.

And apparently, there are many mothers from another generation who have only taught their own kids how to pass on the hatred rather than what it is that all Hawai’ians are meant to pass on – that thing called Aloha, that thing called Lokahi, and that Onipa’a energy that was collectively handed to us by our beloved Queen, Liluokalani.

Malo wearing and poi eating doth not a Hawai’ian make. Aloha, accepting the Sacred nature of the human being wrapped in the Malo and eating poi is the thing that we are responsible for sharing with the world, specifically with our own kind. When we have chosen to turn on each other, we are doing anything but living as we ought to, which for Hawai’ians does not mean that we have to seek out what is different in one another, because when we do that we are not being strong.

When we do that, all we are really doing is telling the world that those who came and stole our lands were right…that we are inferior.

Oh…bruddahs…sistahs..I promise you – I am anything…ANYTHING but an inferior Human Being…meaning that I am ANYTHING but an inferior Hawai’ian.

Think about it…






One thought on “Wearing a Malo+ Eating Poi doth not a Hawai’ian Make (No matter what anyone wants to believe…)

  1. Pingback: Your Maoli Awareness | 9th island maoli

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